Monday, May 28, 2012

Created for Community

By Monique Zackery
(Ministry-wife friends. [We didn't plan to all wear Toms Shoes that day.]
A picture of our commonality and uniqueness: community.)

We sat around the dining table in celebration of my birthday. These ladies, pastor’s wives and female servant-leaders in the church, who have become some of my cherished friends, assisted my husband in throwing me an intimate, surprise party that brought me to tears.

“Wow. I feel cared for.” I thought to myself as I thanked them for their kindness.

Birthdays have never really been a big deal to me. Besides, this was a random year anyway. It wasn’t year twenty-one, or thirty, or the big 4-0. I was celebrating an odd number. But there was something special to me about this gathering. It spoke to my heart. It confirmed to me that I had a place to belong. I felt embraced by my community—a community I love just as deeply as they love me.

Of course it hasn't always been this way. There have been seasons of loneliness, seasons of wondering where I fit in,  moments of rejection that cut deep to the heart, and lengthy prayers of pouring out before God. But this day represented a longing fulfilled and what a sweet day it was. 

A young friend who was visiting from out of town joined us at the table while we ate silky chocolate cake, and drank milk to wash it down. Amidst laughter and smiles the subject of authentic friendship in ministry became the center of our focus.

“If you could go back in time and encourage your younger self before entering ministry, what would you say?” I asked the ladies. A number of responses came.

“I would teach myself that 'it’s okay to not be okay' sometimes. You don’t have to pretend that everything is perfect when it’s not.” One pastor’s wife said.

“I would tell myself to be uniquely me, and not to feel the need to change myself to meet everyone else’s expectations of a pastor’s wife.” Another said.

“I would say to live authentically in community with other women, to have accountability and to be open to it…”

Reflections of wisdom-learned-through-the-years were bouncing about the table.

“I would say to myself, ‘You’re not alone.’ And choose not to believe the lie that ‘I’m the only one going through it.’ There are countless pastor’s wives facing the same types of challenges as me.”

We talked about the freedom that comes with being real, and at times even vulnerable, through story and confession in community (with safe people, of course).

The young woman visiting from out of town sat quietly as she listened intently. Later, when the party was over, she pulled me aside and shared that she had never seen authenticity and community like the one she had just witnessed around the table. To see pastor’s wives and leaders in the church embrace each other and talk about taking off the masks and just being ourselves, weaknesses and all, in order to give God glory, was a foreign concept to this precious one who was raised in the church. It was a picture of grace that she had never known before.

This is how it should be,” I thought to myself. “…Real and full of grace to give God glory.”  

I grieve at the thought of the many ministry wives who have felt alone on this journey. I grieve for those of us who have struggled to meet expectations and find our place, or experienced a crisis of faith with no friend to turn to, for those of us who have longed for authentic relationships, and who have fought dark battles in isolation. 

We were never meant to do this alone.

I recently came to this understanding. We were created in God’s image and God is community. He consists of three incredible parts in community with one another, making up the One Godhead: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. If we were created in His image, what does this say about us? I believe we were created for community. Without it, we wither.

Let us embrace real community, with grace and authenticity. Let's ask God to reveal the people He has purposed to be our community in this season. Let's be courageous and ask God to lead us to the ones we are to adopt as our extended family, showing them grace and acceptance through Jesus Christ. Let's be a safe place to foster true friendships. This is the body—living, loving, and working together—the way He intended it to be.

So, what would YOU tell your younger self before getting into ministry? It’s your turn to share, friend. I invite you to write your words of wisdom with THIS community. Let’s build each other up in this place, authentically and genuinely. Please comment for your fellow Garden readers to see and be encouraged.

Sincerely,

Monique Zackery
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Monique is a pastor's wife in Northern California. When she isn't glueing her fingers together in a D.I.Y. project, you can find her worshiping God through music and everyday life. She is the author of the blog Finding Me in You, where she openly shares and encourages others with the lessons God is teaching her on identity and fulfillment in Christ. Furthermore, Monique has a passion for abolishing modern day slavery in this lifetime. She is currently working toward a degree in Leadership in Ministry and hopes to complete a Masters in Counseling as a tool to aid in the healing of her community and rescued victims of slavery. Above all, she desires to be an arrow, pointing others to the ultimate Healer, Jesus. 


Author Website: Finding Me in You

4 comments:

  1. Thank you for these wise words. What a great gift you've given to us on your birthday!

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    1. Shannon, your so sweet. :) Thanks for your encouragement and for your faithfulness here in The Garden!

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  2. "Taking off the masks and just being ourselves"... Monique, your words are encouraging, challenging and inspiring. We are truly made for community. Thanks for the beautiful reminder and example from your personal life. Love you, Sister!

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    1. Thank you for the encouragement, Carla!

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